16 December 1911 Birth of Susanne Eycke, Hospital Chaplain and Holocaust survivor

Susanne Eycke * December 16, 1911 in Brieg / Lower Silesia, † November 8, 1996 in Weilheim.  1931-1934 studied philology in Rostock, Munich, Jena and Berlin;  1934/1935 studied theology in Erlangen;   1935-1936 training as a parish helper in the Burckhardthaus Berlin;  1936-1945 parish helper and secretary;  1948/1949 studied Theology at the Kirchliche Hochschule Berlin;  1950-1976 hospital chaplain, partly in a leading position, in Berlin, Lübeck and again Berlin. Susanne Eycke was daughter of Government architect Arthur Eycke and his wife Hedwig, b.  Böhm, born in Lower Silesia. 

Her father, who died in World War I in 1917, was Jewish.  Susanne Eycke’s vocation was to become a high school teacher of English, history, religion and art.  From 1931 to 1934 she studied philology in Rostock, Munich, Jena and Berlin.  In the summer semester of 1934 and the winter semester of 1934/1935, she changed to full theology in Erlangen for two semesters, but had to abandon her studies on March 31, 1935, as a “mixed-breed of the first degree”. 

Deaconesses under the Cross and Swastika – Suzanne was prevented from continuing her studies and had to serve under Pfister Horst Schirmacher who had exluded Jewish Christians from ministry

Instead, she attended from October 1935 to March 1936, the seminar for church women’s ministry in Burckhardthaus Berlin, which she could complete, taking into account their studies on 18 March 1936 with the exam as a parish worker.  From 1936 to 1938 she was ecclesiastical junior minister in the entire parish of Munich, 1938/1939 parish vicar in Berlin-Schlachtensee and from 1939 to 1945 chief secretary of the German Protestant Sailor’s Mission (director Gerhard Füllkrug). 

After a period of illness (TBC) in 1945/1946 and activities as a church helper in Gera in 1946/1947, she resumed her studies in theology at the Kirchliche Hochschule Berlin from April 1948 to August 1949 and on 16 August 1949 with the First Theological Examination  to lock.  She graduated from the Berlin-Buch Hospital in 1949/1950 under Pfister Horst Schirmacher, former NSDAP and DC member. As director of the Central Committee of the Inner Mission during the Nazi period, she was excluded from the ministry by him as a Christians of Jewish.  In November 1950, Susanne Eycke passed the Second Theological Examination and was ordained on 25 February 1951. 

Susaanne Eycke’s book “Prayers for the Sick – 1970

From 1950 to 1954 she was parish vicar at Oskar Helene Hospital, and until 1960 Provincial Vicar for Hospital Chaplaincy in Berlin.  Subsequently, she was appointed as a hospital pastor at the Medical Academy in Lübeck, where she was the chaplain until 1971 of St. Luke’s Hospital congregation.  In the care of children and adolescents with long-term illness, she benefited from her many years of experience in church youth work.  In 1971 she returned to Berlin where, until 31 December 1976, she served as the parish priest at the St. Elisabeth Diakonissen Hospital in Berlin-Schöneberg.  On her retirement in January 1, 1977, she lived in Augustinum-Wohnstift Dießen / Upper Bavaria.  Susanne Eycke died on 8 November 1996 in Weilheim.  Eberhard Rohm / Hartmut Ludwig

“The difficult postwar period” is an unpleasant chapter one for the churches. Surviving Christians of Jewish descent were still isolated, and treated like second class citizens, without the death threats. They had great difficulties coming back into church ministry, whilst many pastors who were former Nazi party members were allowed to continue in their positions.

The case of theologian Susanne Eycke shows how insensitive the Berlin church leadership was with the victims of Nazi racism. In 1949/1950 she had to complete her teaching vicariate with Pastor Horst Schirmacher, who was responsible during the Nazi period for being a member of the NSDAP and the DC for excluding Christians of Jewish descent from the ecclesiastical offices. 

Prayer and Reflection : My heart goes out to this devoted, caring and courageous lady, who trained to serve others but was prevented from exercising her gifts in the fullest way because of her Jewish father and the Nazi policies of exclusion. Her faith, humility and long-suffering shine through the story of her life, and her prayer book for the sick stands as a testimony to her willingness to care for others and not look to her own needs. Her warm smile says it all – a woman who knew she was loved by God through the Messiah, and wanted to show his love to all.

Lord, help us to be ambassadors of your reconciling love. Help us to show the love that you showed on the cross when you prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Please help us to deal with the bitterness, anger and resentment that so often comes upon us when we are badly treated, rejected, persecuted or threatened by others. Thank you for the life of Susanne Eycke, you servant, who served others with your love. Help us to learn from her example and live out your teaching in thought, word and deed. In our Messiah Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen

Main source: Hartmut Ludwig & Eberhard Röhm in Verbindung mit Jörg Thierfelder (Hg.) EVANGELISCH GETAUFT – ALS »JUDEN» VERFOLGT. Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Ein Gedenkbuch.
Stuttgart: Calwer 2014, 473 sid.

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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